Jean-Luc Vellut, born in Uccle, Belgium, in 1936. Ph.D. from the Australian National University, Canberra. Professor of Modern History at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Fellow (1 September 1996 – 30 June 1997)
My main project, which kept me busy while at NIAS, was to organise my forthcoming publications on the history of Central Africa, and in particular on the Congo Basin area, during the 19th-20th centuries. The long term (1997-99) objective I am pursuing is two-fold:
To write a history in which both European and African actors would receive recognition, that is, to avoid the pitfalls of either ‘Euro-centred’ or ‘Afro centred’ history.
To take into full account the emergence in the area of modern States as powerful instruments which moulded the destiny of the region, but at the same time, to give full justice to the existence of other solidarities which transcend the political borders. What comes to mind are the international property of capital, of the international dimension of the entry of the Christian experience, of the movements of persons across the borders, of the reliant ethnic and cultural solidarities which, in practice, denied the existence of modern boundaries. The programme is to write a history which steers clear of nationalist approaches. A first general outline was prepared during my stay at NIAS. Furthermore, I proceeded with the preparation of a collection of essays on transborder history in the area. These essays are partly revised or rewritten versions of research which I have published over the last few years. Some, however, are entirely new. The following essays were written during my stay at NIAS: “The Free State of the Congo as a conquering State”; “Capital investment in Central Africa before World War I”; “Death penalty in the Congo” (including an essay in micro-history); “The Portuguese as an ethnic minority in the Congo”. The essay on the entry of African material culture in the cultural colonial field is practically done. The entire collection will be ready for publication by the end of 1997.